Ebola is on everyone’s minds due to the media frenzy and political implications, which are somewhere between hysteria and paranoia. Ebola is definitely a medical problem in vulnerable countries. Developed countries must help those in inflicted countries contain the disease using a well-established infection epidemiology methodology without contaminating the issue with political correctness.
I want to touch on the nurses’ infection issue because it is related to the topic of this website, safety in surgical pathology grossing. The Dallas nurses’ infections highlighted the lack of attention to details in the use of protective equipment. As I understand it, the nurses may have been contaminated when they took off their protective equipment, which might had been soiled by infectious material near the neck skin that potentially had invisible lacerations. Or there may also have been something wrong in the protective gear, namely the mask. One nurse complained on TV that the nurses’ necks were exposed, so the nurses “resourcefully” taped their necks.
The current protective gear was not designed for work in a medical ward. The nurses work under conditions in which they might experience technical difficulties while they perform the necessary medical procedures on critically ill patient. The initially demonstrated attire could be used for Hazmat cleaning or … for a Halloween party. If workers are uncomfortable in their protective equipment, they may cut corners with regard to safety during extreme situations.
This brings the discussion to safety in surgical pathology. This isn’t about Ebola. I placed several articles on this website many years ago about a different way to wear protective mask. I proposed it especially for those who are involved in using a power saw for bone cutting, but wearing a mask in this manner may also apply to other situations for protection from any blood- born infection, including when specimens, such as sinus contents, placentas, etc., are processed in the fresh state.
Over a decade ago, I sent the Kimberly-Clark Company a proposal for a mask redesign, which provides protection to the neck area, but for some reason, I have not received a response. I’ve forgotten about it, but maybe it makes sense to design a special protective mask for grossing in surgical pathology. Infection disease wards need also a different protective mask.
Before a real vaccine against the disease is developed and implemented, “Ebola scare vaccine” might be beneficial for work place safety, including in the surgical pathology gross room.